Don’t Leave God Out

by | Sep 16, 2020 | The Bible | 1,849 comments

James 4:13-17

It is wise to have plans and goals and dreams for your day, your family, your finances, your health, etc. A man with no goals drifts through life only to get to death’s door sadly wishing he had accomplished SOMETHING.  A popular motivational saying is, “Plan your work and work your plan. 

Some members of First Church had plans.  But James had a problem with the way they planned. 

Come now [and pay attention to this], you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and carry on our business and make a profit” James 4:13.

I do not see the problem so far, do you. They are doing the wise thing, planning for their financial future. They “had plans for the future and had sketched in the details fairly specifically. They had a timetable (today or tomorrow), a location (such and such a city), a schedule (a year), a plan (do business), and a determined conclusion (make a profit)” (Tony Evans).

Even though at first glance, First Church’s plans seem outstanding, James was concerned with their arrogant presumption that they were in total control of their tomorrow. He chided them for their assumption:

Yet you do not know [the least thing] about what may happen in your life tomorrow. [What is secure in your life?] You are merely a vapor [like a puff of smoke or a wisp of steam from a cooking pot] that is visible for a little while and then vanishes [into thin air] (James 4:14). 

Years ago, after I taught a bible study lesson at church, I gave all attendees a poster that read GOD IS THE BOSS OF ME. For months it was posted in my office, the church office, and the hall bulletin board. I wanted everyone to recognize and acknowledge that God is sovereign, and we are not. I wanted us all to agree that as a church we make plans, but ultimately God is in control. 

Maybe James was remembering David’s psalm when he told First Church that they were merely a vapor that would vanish in just a little while. David wrote: 

“Behold, You have made my days as [short as] hand widths,
And my lifetime is as nothing in Your sight.
Surely every man at his best is a mere breath [a wisp of smoke, a vapor that vanishes]! Selah.
“Surely every man walks around like a shadow [in a charade];
Surely they make an uproar for nothing;
Each one builds up riches, not knowing who will receive them Psalm 39:5-6, Amplified Bible).

James instructed First Church that when Christians make plans, Christ should be included.  “Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and we will do this or that” (James 4:15, Amplified Bible). Warren W. Wiersbe explains:

“Life is not uncertain to God, but it is uncertain to us. Only when we are in His will can we be confident of tomorrow, for we know that He is leading us…God reveals His will in His Word, and yet most people ignore the Bible. God gives precepts, principles, and promises that can guide us in every area of life. Knowing and obeying the Word of God is the surest way to success.

Instead of acknowledging God’s sovereignty, First Church businessmen were bragging about their plans to each other and James had a warning for them. “But as it is, you boast [vainly] in your pretension and arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So any person who knows what is right to do but does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:16-17, Amplified Bible). Presuming you are in charge of your life, and God is a nice addition to it is evil. The truth is man cannot see or control the future and to deny the sovereignty of God is immoral and wicked.    

Here is my advice, take it or leave it. Make plans for every area of your life. No plans and you are at the mercy of fate. Submit your plans to the Lord. Search his Word for the principles to help you to succeed. Pray and ask for His guidance. Take time to listen for the voice the Holy Spirit. Obey God’s guidance through His Word and His Spirit. Then praise Him in advance because God said:  “’For I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope’” (Jeremiah 29:11) If it turned out the way you planned, praise Him. If it did not turn out the way you planned, praise Him even the more because He has something better and He saved you from unnecessary heartache. 

Let us all declare for everyone to hear, “GOD IS THE BOSS OF ME!” Join the conversation.

Dr. Dorothy J. Haire

Dr. Dorothy J. Haire

Author & Blogger

Both church planter and pastor of Bread of Life Christian Church for the last 18 years, Dr. Haire is a beloved mother and successful author. Empowered to deliver the word of God to His people, Dr. Haire uses her digital platform to educate and develop Christian communities that are rooted in the word of Christ.